Poornathrayeesa temple's (Kerala) Sankara- Narayana Vilakku and Lakshmi-Narayana vilakku ritual

Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple, Thirupanithura.:smundanat.blogspot.com 

Sree Poornathrayeesa temple of Thirupanithura near  Kochi in the SW  Indian State of Kerala dedicated to Mahavishnu is a popular temple and the deity is the family god of the erstwhile Kochi royal family whose capital was Thirupanithura.  Among the Sri Vishnu temples, it is a rare one where God Vishnu is enshrined in a sitting posture under the 5-headed hood of serpent Aananthan (Adisesha) reverentially forming the cover over the lord. 

The famous temple  that is being visited by lots of pilgrims has a host of several interesting temple festivals and traditions. The annual 8 - day  Vrischikolsavam festival (November - December) and Seeveli (also spelled seevali)  ritual attract lots of devotees. Since the middle of 2019,   temple authorities has restricted visitors to the temple and limited the festivities  as a precaution against the COVID -19  pandemic.  Participation of elephants in Seeveli  has been an integral part of this temple tradition for  centuries. The   temple   conducts  three types of traditional festivals ''Ankuraadi  (with full  rituals and other colorful cultural programmes),  Padahaadi (only  peripheral colourful programmmes without any traditional rituals) and ,Dwajhadi (strictl traditional rituals).''

 Location map Thirupanithura, Kerala . themetrorailguy.com/

 A unique and rare temple ritual of  Sree Poornathrayeesa temple is  Sankara-Narayana Vilakku (Shiva and Vishnu) and Laksmi-Narayana Vilakku  (Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu). This kind of ritual is not heard of in adjacent Tamil Nadu.  Participation of Utchavar from a Shiva temple and  of Kali in a Vishnu temple in Tamil Nadu is a rare.  Unlike Kerala where Nambooderis work as priests/pundits in Shiva, Vishnu and Sakthi temples, in Tamil Nadu Shiva temples and Shiva temples, particularly associated  with Agama Shastras, puja and temple rituals  are conducted by trained Brahmi Shivacharyas (followers of Shivism)  and  Brahmin Bhattacharyas (followers of  Vaishnavism propounded by Sri Ramanujacharya.  As  for Sakthi temples in Tamil Nadu both  Brahmin and trained Pujaries from other castes conduct the rituals in places like Mariamman kovils across the state. 

Chottanikkara Bhagavathy temple, Kerala  teluguone.com

Above image:  In the Chottanikkara temple,Kerala the Goddess is worshiped in three forms  -  as Saraswati in the morning draped in white; as Lakshmi at noon, draped in crimson; and as Durga in the evening. Puja is done daily nowadays. The deity is Bhagavathy, a form of Kali, supposedly another form of Parvati, consort of God Shiva.  Chottanikara Makam thozhal' is a main festival..............


Error Pisharikovil, Kerala, tripadvisor

Above image:  Believed to be an incarnate of  famous Goddess of Knowledge, Mookambika of Kollur, KA, a Namboodri Brahmin  (Pisharia) was responsible for bringing  divinity from Kollur to this place.  "Pisharas are  yogis, monks, sanyasis etc. It is one among 108 Durgalayas  and   Adi Shankara sang in praise of the deity,  goddess of wisdom. The temple is in  a picturesque place on the bank of Muvattupuzha River...................

Pazhoor Perumthrikovil, Kerala, you tube.com

Above image:  Pazhoor Perumthrikovil:  A 12th century temple dedicated to God Shiva. who is  in form of  linga  in the circular Srikovil/sanctum. Goddess Parvati  is on the back of srikovil....... 

Sree Poornathrayeesa temple of  Thirupanithura  annually conducts  Sankara  Narayana vilakku and Lakshmi Narayana vilakku  highlighting the oneness of God Shiva and Vishnu.  Lord Shiva  took the form of  Sankaranarayanar, a combined form of Shiva and Vishnu to impress on the  devotees  that both Hari and Haran  (Shiva)  are one almighty.  This temple  stands as a fine example emphasizing that Shiva and Vishu   are just  one god.  

The  Sthalapuram of Thirupanithura temple  has it that  Sree Poornathrayeesa (Sri Vishnu) is the elder brother of the goddesses of Eroor Pisharikovil Temple and Chottanikkara Temple.  It is also believed that the God Vishnu   married  a Namboothiri girl, Nangema, from Vadakkedathu Mana. The girl, a true devotee of Sri  Vishnu,  skipped marriage and at last came to the temple here and surrendered to the lord.  Finally she went inside the Srikovil and merged with Vishnu.

The temple tradition has been that during the annual festivities utchavar (processional deities) idols from Perumthrikovil Temple (Lord Shiva) and Eroor Pisharikovil Temple (Lakshmi)  are taken in procession  accompanied by music, etc to the temple here for  aaraattu ritual.   It is a long festival  and the temple priest bathes the god's idol  in a nearby river or a temple tank. It is normally held  at the end of the temple festival. Ārāttu is  done twice   annually the spring festival (March - April) and the autumn festival (October - November). 

The Aaraattu  ritual ( holy bathing/ Abhishekam  of the deity) of Sree Poornathrayeesa  is conducted by the  temple priests  in the temple pond  of  Chakkamkulangara Shiva Temple which is close to  Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple.   After aaraattu,   puja is done to both idols which are taken together in a religious procession, then they are taken back to their respective places.   Locally  it is known as  Sankara-Narayana Vilakku (Shiva and Vishnu) and Laksmi-Narayana Vilakku (Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu) in which lots of devotees participate.  

 Sankara Narayana Vilkku is celebrated on the Thiruvathira day of Dhanu (December – January)   in Malayalam calendar. Shiva (called Sankara) visits lord Poornathrayeesa making end to his eight day long festival at Perumthrikovil.  On this day  Shiva  is  supposedly the guest of Narayana  implying that Sankara and Narayana are one God; hence the  the concept of “Sankaranarayana.''

The birthday of Sree Poornathrayeesa also comes in the Malayalam month  of Kumbham (Feb.-March) and the celebrations are popular here as  Uthiram Vilakku  preceded by Para utchavam. The ritual associated with this festival is Lakshimi Narayna Vilakku that takes place on the  full moon night under the bright  torches (in Tamil Theevetti). The Devi of Pisharikovil in Eroor visits the Poornathrayeesa temple on the day of star “Uthram  in Kumbam.  Lakshmi Narayana Pooja and other rituals are conducted for the Lord and Devi  together. The belief is that worship of  both  idols Bhagavati Lakshmi & Narayana together  on that day  will assure the couple of marital bliss, prosperity, peace of mind, protection against  witchcraft, evil forces and happiness. Yet another belief is if a devotee has financial mess, he will be out of wood soon. 

On this day  as part of Vilakku puja there will be  Annadanam  - offering free food to 35000 to  40,000 people.